By: Lara Scriba
(4 min read)
This past week I was gifted a moment where time stood still to witness old patterns shifting in real time. Both in the choices I made for myself and my embodied experience of it. There was a moment of contemplation and actively making the choice, but rather than followed by angst and anxiety, I was filled with a sense of ease and peace. I had chosen to experience joy.
This year has been one full of change and taking risks, stepping out of my comfort zone over and over again without knowing the true outcome of it all. No true end goal, just staying everpresent with the pull I feel in my heart toward expanding my world, learning new skills, deepening my relationships, expressing more gratitude, discovering all the beauty my heart can hold, and exploring my passions.
When I am at home in my heart, there is a deep sense of ease in this space, but when I step into the real world of taking action, ultimately misstepping, fumbling, and even failing forward, my heart can feel a bit bruised and battered. Anxiety easily nestles its way into those crevices vulnerability and self-doubt seem to create.
By following this calling, it feels like I’m living my life turned inside out, raw and exposed. The beauty and bliss I imagine in my mind’s eye is much messier when trying to allow it to play out in the real world.
Self-discovery and reinvention is not an easy path, an act of alchemy, the falling away of parts that no longer serve, a letting go of what no longer resonates or brings joy—deliberately digging deep and diving into the deep end. It is not a passive, simple, or short-lived experience. It takes time, patience, and an immense amount of self-compassion.
As I embark on something new or that is very important to me, I often worry, overthink, over prepare and try to micromanage those around me, slipping into an anxious state. Consumed by fear and a sense of lack. Afraid I am not up to the challenge or have what it takes to have the experience live up to my expectations.
Even if the scenario plays out logistically “as expected,” my anxious state kills any sense of joy or ease. My anxiety has stolen countless moments of joy in my life. I watch it happen, knowing the predictable spiraling of events, but I often cannot help myself.
Over the years, I’ve learned to reduce the spiraling, but its potential always lurks just below the surface. This year I’ve had many opportunities to manage my anxiety, as we’ve tackled one challenge after another, some more successful than others. This past week though, what seemed like it would be just another attempt to manage my anxiety, ended up surprising me. A profound and deep shift occurred in my being.
I had an important event coming up, and I can tend to obsess over the details. I also ensure that I have ample time before and after. Reading, re-reading. Lying out all the materials the night before, securing a quiet space at least two hours before an event, and have a meditation ritual beforehand to ensure I’m calm grounded, and centered. I protect this time with a fierceness.
In theory, it seems like due diligence and prudent practices, but the rigidness associated with them tends to choke out the benefits they are supposed to give. I had to make a choice.
I had an opportunity to experience joy, connection, and play with friends—a Fourth of July Slumber party, which meant a late night and a very early morning. Everyone would have to be out of the boat by 7:45 AM, so I could be ready to run my event at 9 AM.
My two (plus) hour ritual was now down to an hour and fifteen minutes, which also included cleaning up the space and getting the camera ready. I also have a husband who chronically runs an hour late, and the slumber party consisted of a tween and two full-fledged teens. I needed to text my friend and let her know if it was a go.
I’m sure you can imagine the tension building in my body at this point. I started to spin, my body’s reaction was a hard NO, but my heart’s reaction was a resounding YES.
To my surprise, there was a moment of stillness as I felt my entire being choose joy and connection. I felt my body fill will a sense of ease. An experience of deep self-trust that I could run my event successfully even without all my rituals in place, and I gave myself permission to choose joy.
I’m struggling to articulate how profound this shift was. It was a deeply embodied and blissful experience. Rather than my mind trying to convince me to override old patterns by taking different actions yet still struggling to be fully onboard. This felt like total resonance, a full body yes. A voice whispering, “It’s time. You deserve happiness.” It brings tears just writing this.
We ended up having an evening filled with laughter, enlightening conversations, and true heartfelt connection. My boy’s hearts were full as they hung out with their friends, and huge smiles erupted along with each firework that went off. My heart coincidingly bursted with joy.
Early the next morning, the gaggle of t(w)eens with ruffled hair and sleepy eyes dutifully marched off the boat exactly at 7:45 AM in search of a warm breakfast (extra props to hubby on that one). I methodically set up for my class, simply shortened my routine, and had an incredible connection with my students.
I closed my computer when the class was done in amazement. I pulled it off. I was able to have it all, and I was the only one that was ever in the way. A shift had occurred from awareness and passively witnessing a pathological process to claiming agency over my experience.
Anxiety gives the illusion of control but only delivers chaos.
I was gifted a moment, a magical pause where time stood still, and clarity pierced my soul, allowing me to see the true cost of my anxiety. Old habits die hard, so I have no doubt my anxiety will rear its ugly head again, but I also have no doubt which route I will choose.